For once the candidates were speechless. “If you could be any living politician, who would you be?” asked Emerson student Taylor Gearhart ’11. The Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates fell silent.
Moderator, Fox25 anchor, and Emerson alumna, Maria Stephanos ’88, MA ’93 allowed candidates Charlie Baker, Tim Cahill, Deval Patrick, and Jill Stein a few minutes to mull the question over. After some time, Cahill chose former President George H.W. Bush. Baker chose former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Stein picked Founder of the Institute for Community Building Mel King, and Patrick selected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“If you could be any living politician, who would you be?”
The debate was geared toward college students and young voters across the Commonwealth. Other Emerson student panelists included Brent Fox ’11, Binsen J. Gonzalez ’11 and Anaridis Rodriguez, MA ’11. All of the panelists were either Communication Studies or Journalism majors.
A member of the student audience, Megan Mitchell ’14, said she felt that Governor Deval Patrick appeared to connect well with the students. “He seemed interested in interacting with the students. I felt like he understood us better than some of the other candidates.”
Gearhart said one of topics in the debate that seemed to resonate the most with students was individual health care coverage. Panelist Anaridis Rodriguez, MA ’11 talked of her own plight to get health care at a reasonable cost while working part time and attending graduate school at Emerson. “Anaridis is uninsured right now,” Gearhart said, “and to hear her describe her struggle to secure health insurance was a really powerful moment.”
Boston Herald reporter Jessica Heslam was also on hand to conduct a focus group with Emerson students. The students and Heslam posted commentary online during the one-hour forum. People unable to attend the debate also participated via a live Twitter feed—sharing comments and asking questions in real time.